Friday, December 28, 2012

Whenever I start a new project I invariably have a moment – often a long moment, where I haven’t the foggiest idea how to proceed. Though I’ve written seven novels before, I haven’t the slightest idea how to do another. My lists, notes, pictures, links, resources, phrases are all well and good, but damned if I can see a path through it all, linking it all, making the story out of the ingredients.

At this point in the process I wish I’d written a book detailing how to write a book: First make a list of characters, develop them in outline. Second storyboard at least three acts. Third, type and be done. Alas, I’ve never written that book. Once I begin, the whole thing becomes organic, characters and scenes I never imagined at the beginning become inevitable by the end and I couldn’t tell you how it happened.

It’s a daunting task to lay out in front of anyone, writing a novel. Take an idea, give it life and breath in characters, events and setting, record it all with as much art as you can into 100,000 words, give or take 50,000.

At this stage, before the characters are named I have only an idea, a seed to pour water on to coax out limbs and roots that will support the structure it must eventually have. I can’t rush it, though I want to. I want to write. I want to put black on the white, keep tables of word counts, make triple redundant backups of the day’s work, but I can’t at this stage. I’ve got to be patient and brainstorm when I can, be alert to the moments when something half congeals and scribble it onto whatever is handy, computer, phone, pad, napkin, arm before it slips away. Hope that when I look at it again, I’ll understand what it meant and know how to use it.

I’m writing, but it doesn’t look like it. I’m creating, though I frown. I’m working though it appears I’m reading. I’m writing a book.

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